News & Politics

Hear Something About An Immigration Raid? Here’s How To Safely Report It

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The threats posed to immigrant communities by the Trump Administration are real and metastasizing daily, and people are understandably on high alert for whatever might be coming next. Some of that well-warranted vigilance is amplified on social media, where people trying to get the word out about Immigration and Customs Enforcement activities have sometimes jumped the gun and passed along unverified rumors.

A Twitter user earlier today reported that ICE agents — or maybe NYPD officers — had stopped a subway train in Queens, and checked passengers for their “green cards.” 

The reports that emerged on Friday were quickly knocked down by the NYPD. “The police department does not check anybody’s green card. Period,” a spokesperson told the Voice.

Asked about the stops, a spokesperson for the mayor, Rosemary Boeglin, referred us to the police department’s statement. “We understand that there’s a lot of fear in communities right now,” Boeglin said, noting that that the city is sending monitors into at-risk communities. She also encouraged New Yorkers to use the legal services the city provides. “It’s really important for New Yorkers to know their rights in these circumstances. They can always call 311, or go to Action NYC, or the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.”

Such unverified reports have been circulating occasionally on social media for weeks, says Fahd Ahmed, executive director of Desis Rising up and Moving [DRUM], an immigrant rights group based in New York.

“We were hearing from our own members, who are south Asian, working class folks, most of whom are undocumented, and we could sense the level of fear,” Ahmed says. “There were people saying, ‘I haven’t left my home, I’m not going out.’”

Last week, DRUM released a list of guidelines for sharing reports online. The goal, according to Ahmed, is to better organize information sharing. “For our communities to be organized, our communication exchange also has to be organized,” he adds.

The guidelines are pretty simple; don’t pass along information unless you have first-hand confirmation. His group and others collect and investigate reports of raids or other action. The guidelines suggest referring information to organization equipped to verify them. If reports pop up on line that aren’t coming first hand, the group says, reply with the guidelines as a reminder to only share solid information.

The risk is real, Ahmed says, and the fear in immigrant communities is well grounded. “The reason people are afraid is that ICE is doing raids, ice is making arrests,” Ahmed says. But provoking unnecessary fear can make people in immigrant communities feel more isolated, or may encourage them to doubt reports that are accurate. “They want to cause this fear and this panic,” Ahmed says of the authorities.

But Ahmed stresses that DRUM isn’t suggesting that people shouldn’t be vigilant.

“We want people to report,” Ahmed says. “We’re just saying, here’s a systematized way of reporting that minimizes misinformation, and allows us to better organize our communities.”

You can read the full guidelines below.

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